Looking for OTA DVR - AVS Forum
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Old 02-08-2007, 05:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys,

What I am looking for is quite simple, but seemingly impossible to find.

The DVR I am looking for must have:

1. Record OTA
2. No subscription required
3. Less than $200
4. Either new or used. I'm not picky.
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Old 02-08-2007, 09:10 AM
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Good luck

Your best bet to stay in your price range and not have a monthly service fee would be to add a tuner card to your PC. Most tuner cards these days come with basic DVR software.

Or search the pawn shops for an old Tivo or ReplayTV that has lifetime service activation as the activation is good for the life of the box.

A 'phile and his money are soon parted...
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Old 02-09-2007, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks digital man, I thought as much. Any recommendations for a DVR card for a PC? Thanks again!
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Old 02-09-2007, 12:11 PM
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People seem to like the Hauppauge cards a lot. I have a couple old Win-TV cards at home that seem to work fine but have no DVR software. I recently picked up an ATI USB TV tuner that comes with its own guide and DVR software, it does a decent job on my wifes computer, but does not work very well on mine because I have nVidia cards in it.

You might get better answers in the HTPC Forum

edit: HTPC Forum not HTCP

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Old 02-09-2007, 12:19 PM
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Do you need to record HDTV?

If not (or don't mind recording HDTV off Directv in 4:3), I just picked up a Symphonic 80GB DVR (not a DVD recorder, but a DVR with a DVD player) and the DVR function works even better than my old Panasonic DVD Recorder with a hard drive...very fast functioning.

Price was dirt cheap, just over $100, off Ebay. They're reconditioned but work fine and they were apparently sold up in Canada in Walmarts. If you need a direct link just PM me.
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Old 03-24-2007, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goalline View Post

Hi guys,

What I am looking for is quite simple, but seemingly impossible to find.

The DVR I am looking for must have:

1. Record OTA
2. No subscription required
3. Less than $200
4. Either new or used. I'm not picky.

By now, you should be able to find one of these used. Sony also made a DHG-HDD500 with a 500GB drive. Brand new, it was over $1000, again should be able to find one used fairly cheap, but I can't say for sure. Here's what one looked like:

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-DHG-HDD50...4769625&sr=1-4
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Old 01-13-2008, 01:40 AM
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Well here it is 2008 and it's still unlikely you will find a decent HD DVR like the Motorolla DCT3400 to record over the air broadcasts without insanely stupid $1000/year subscriptions to service providers offering 800 channels of mostly useless standard definition programming that most of us don't want.

I'm convinced that industry leaders are controlling the manufacture and distribution of good quality HD DVR's making it impossible for the consumer to purchase a full featured DVR at a reasonable price (Say $500 bucks) that works without subscriptions or cable connections. Directv is no longer allowing consumers to purchase their units, and now instead force monthly fees on subscribers to lease their DVR's.....its a conspiracy to rip off the public.

I will drop dead before I pay $1700 a year again to Comcast. No Directv, Dish or Comcost for me! I'm getting all 5 networks in HD over the air now and that's all I have time to watch anyway. My only dissappointment is that I cannot record from a simple DVR component solution connected that the Industry is keeping out of the American market.

BTW: Please do not reply with PVR solutions! I'm talking about a decent and DVR solution and NOT MOXI...that aggravating company that has been annoying the market place for years promising the release of OTA models. I think they may have released something but it's $1100 and pricing like that in this fast changing environment is a real waste.
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Old 01-13-2008, 01:48 AM
 
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its a conspiracy to rip off the public.

Rather, it's just a matter of companies seeking out the best financial arrangements to fulfill their obligations to their owners. There is no conspiracy.
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Old 01-13-2008, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markmazza View Post

Well here it is 2008 and it's still unlikely you will find a decent HD DVR like the Motorolla DCT3400 to record over the air broadcasts without insanely stupid $1000/year subscriptions to service providers offering 800 channels of mostly useless standard definition programming that most of us don't want.

The $199-$249 TivoHD DVR does OTA and is $129 per year, which works out to $10.75/mo. Until last week, they also offered a $698 version of the box with no monthly fees.

Last week, Echostar announced a standalone, dual-tuner OTA HDTV DVR with no monthly fees. It should ship in July at significantly less than the "feeless" $698 TiVo. You can read more about it in this thread:

Echostar TR-50 HDTV DVR: Official Thread
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Old 01-15-2008, 09:12 PM
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I'm also looking for a DVR for OTA HD or possibly unencrypted HD broadcast channels over cable. I'm brand new to this forum so please be kind.

I have spent a good number of hours researching online and I'm sure someone who has spent a lot more time than myself could help point me in the right direction. I currently watch OTA digital broadcast channels with a Digital Tuner on a 480p projector. I would like to have a dvr/pvr for the same. I do not subscribe to cable or satellite television, though I do get broadband through Charter. I think it may be possible to get the same channels unencrypted through my cable hookup QAM??, but I do have an antenna and so it's really not an issue.

I was looking at getting a tuner card and working it through my PC, but I really haven't found a card that looks like it'll perform as I'd like. I'm not really an a/vphile, but I do want good quality. I want any recorded material to have as good of a picture (480p of good quality) and sound (5.1 DD when available) as I'm getting now. I watch it on a 92" screen so any degradation of the image will be pretty noticeable.

I'd be much more interested in not paying a monthly fee, but would be willing to consider it if needed. Cost is a big factor. I'd really like to stay around $300-400 (preferably less). If anyone knows of a really good quality tuner card I'd be all for that, but I haven't really read any reviews of tuner cards that talk about image quality (and none really address the audio part of it).

The only non-subscription units I've found seem really expensive to me. Any ideas? Thanks.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by grantxyz View Post

The only non-subscription units I've found seem really expensive to me. Any ideas? Thanks.

If you already have PC running Windows Vista Home Premium (or Ultimate), and you don't mind (1) running it 24/7, and (2) only recording local SD and HD channels, then a Windows Media Center extender option would work well to provide HD DVR capability to one or more rooms. You can read more about Windows Media Center here.

That would require at least one HDHomerun (dual-tuner) @ $169, plus a Linksys DMA2100 Media Center Extender @ $250 for each room. If you already own an Xbox360, then that will also act as Windows Media Center extender, eliminating the need to buy the Linksys.

With the HD extender on each TV, you have a program guide, you can watch and pause live TV, you can schedule recordings, and you can watch recorded programs. All the programs are saved to the hard drive on your PC and streamed to the SageHD extender. Each room with a HD Extender has access to the same recordings.


Program guide with Windows Media Center Extender

If you don't have a PC running Windows Vista, SageTV is another low-cost alternative to provide HD to one or more rooms. With SageTV, you would also buy one or more HDHomerun (dual-tuner) @ $169 and install the $69 SageTV server software on a computer. Then you buy one $199 SageTV HD Media Extender for each TV.

With the HD extender on each TV, you have a program guide, you can watch and pause live TV, you can schedule recordings, and you can watch recorded programs. All the programs are saved to the hard drive on your PC and streamed to the SageHD extender. Each room with a HD Extender has access to the same recordings.


Program guide with SageTV HD Extender

Versions of SageTV are available for Windows, Windows Home Server, OS X, and Linux.

There are no subscription fees with Vista Media Center and SageTV, beyond the energy cost to run your PC 24/7 (up to $200/yr). With these solutions, you are limited to OTA and unencrypted QAM (i.e. local channels), unless your cable provider is one of the few that does not copy-protect its cable HD channels. If your provider is among the few that does not use copy protection, you should be able to connect a HDTV STB from the cable co to your PC via Firewire and get encrypted channels as well.
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Old 01-16-2008, 04:56 PM
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So the hdhomerun is a good product? If I only need to run this to one tv (projector) and if I could feasibly run a DVI cable from PC to projector, do I need to get the SageTV Extender? Does the HDhomerun do everything I need it to do by itself (with the SageTV software)? Will I be able to use the remote and surf channels, record programs and watch saved programs?

On the audio side, would I need to get an audio card if I wanted digital out to my receiver? Is there any other comparable equipment to the hdhomerun that would have a digital audio out? I believe some of the newer tuner cards may offer this feature. Thanks for your help!
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Old 01-16-2008, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by grantxyz View Post

So the hdhomerun is a good product? If I only need to run this to one tv (projector) and if I could feasibly run a DVI cable from PC to projector, do I need to get the SageTV Extender? Does the HDhomerun do everything I need it to do by itself (with the SageTV software)? Will I be able to use the remote and surf channels, record programs and watch saved programs?

The HDHomerun is a ATSC/QAM dual-tuner device for a computer. It does not do anything on its own. It only has one output -- ethernet.

You need Windows Vista Media Center or the SageTV software to give you a guide, schedule recordings, record content, play recordings, etc.

The $199 SageTV HD extender allows you to access a guide, watch live TV, schedule recordings, and view all your recorded programs without the need for a PC in the same room. Picture quality is superior compared to most PCs. It also includes a remote.

Basically, you install the SageTV software on a PC or Mac in your office (or anywhere else in your home). You connect the HDHomerun to an ethernet port on your router / switch. You connect the coax from your antenna or cable company to the coax input on the HDHomerun. Then you connect the SageTV HD extender to your TV. The SageTV extender does require an ethernet connection (wired or wireless) in your TV room.

I would recommend you read this review.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grantxyz View Post

On the audio side, would I need to get an audio card if I wanted digital out to my receiver? Is there any other comparable equipment to the hdhomerun that would have a digital audio out? I believe some of the newer tuner cards may offer this feature. Thanks for your help!

If you use the SageTV HD extender, you have no need for an audio card. The SageTV HD extender has optical out. I would highly recommend the HD extender because it avoids hassles with PC->TV connections, PC remote control, PC audio output, and PC picture quality. That said, if you really want to use a PC and you already have a remote and sound card with optical output, you can.

If you don't want to use a computer, then the $250 TivoHD (with $129/yr DVR fee) is your only real alternative right now.
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Old 01-23-2008, 08:00 PM
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I'm new to posting here (though I have been reading and learning for a while), and I am looking for essentially the same thing as Goalline and grantxyz. My wife and I have decided to ditch pay TV completely, but we don't want to give up the onscreen guide and DVR-like recording (we currently have an old Tivo and couldn't live without it). The interest in having no monthly bill rules out a new Tivo, and some other suggestions.

From everything I have read (and short of fighting the Ebay bidders for a discontinued Sony DVR), it sounds like my current options are to wait for the Echostar TR-50 this July (one unit per TV), or to try the PC route (allowing expandability to multiple TVs with multiple extenders). So assuming I don't want to wait for July (and wonder how much a TR-50 will cost), I have a few further questions about the PC scenario. I have a spare desktop PC that I would use; it is 2.8 GHz, 1 Gb Ram, but with a (too small) 40 Gb Hard Drive. So here are my questions:

(1) If Windows Media Center (and all the info about DIY systems in the HTPC forum) require high-end motherboards, video cards, RAM, etc., then how does the HDHomerun, and especially the SageTV software, have such (relatively) low system requirements? My PC meets the minimum software requirements (barely). But what limitations would there be on a computer that is at, or near, their minimum requirements? Specifically, what issues could I see, if any?

(2) Would the software (such as SageTV), and the system hookup in general, allow an external hard drive (USB for example) to be used for more storage, if the rest of the specs worked okay? I'd prefer to not have to replace the single internal hard drive and have to install everything anew.

Thanks to bfdtv for all the previous info about the HDHomerun and Extenders, and everyone else for their input.
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Old 01-24-2008, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjpjpjpj View Post

(1) If Windows Media Center (and all the info about DIY systems in the HTPC forum) require high-end motherboards, video cards, RAM, etc., then how does the HDHomerun, and especially the SageTV software, have such (relatively) low system requirements? My PC meets the minimum software requirements (barely). But what limitations would there be on a computer that is at, or near, their minimum requirements? Specifically, what issues could I see, if any?

Decoding HD video is CPU-intensive. If you use a media extender, however, the decoding is performed in the extender, not the PC.
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:38 AM
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Decoding HD video is CPU-intensive. If you use a media extender, however, the decoding is performed in the extender, not the PC.

So if I understand correctly, that means that Windows Media Center (or any other software), receiving the HD ATSC signal into a TV Tuner card, has to decode the signal in the PC, but that with the HDHomerun/Extender set-up, the decoding of the signal is done by the Homerun unit before it goes into the PC (and thus what the PC receives and records is an already-decoded, PC-friendly video file)? In other words, it's the Homerun unit that makes the difference from any "TV Tuner card" set-up? I think I am getting it now.

Any idea about my second question, pertaining to using a portable USB hard drive for storage rather than the internal hard drive? Would that cause lag or other problems?

I'm adding another question that I forgot to ask:

(3) Can the software for this set-up (SageTV, for example) handle two or more TVs watching different recorded shows (or one live and one recorded) simultaneously, in HD or otherwise?

Thanks!
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Old 01-24-2008, 12:59 PM
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So if I understand correctly, that means that Windows Media Center (or any other software), receiving the HD ATSC signal into a TV Tuner card, has to decode the signal in the PC, but that with the HDHomerun/Extender set-up, the decoding of the signal is done by the Homerun unit before it goes into the PC (and thus what the PC receives and records is an already-decoded, PC-friendly video file)? In other words, it's the Homerun unit that makes the difference from any "TV Tuner card" set-up? I think I am getting it now.

No.

The HDHomerun is just a dual-tuner with an ethernet connection. It does not do any processing. It just sends the unprocessed, high-definition video stream to your PC.

If you wanted to watch high-definition video on your PC, then your PC would need to have the appropriate CPU and video card to decode, process, and display those signals.

However, decoding and processing video in the PC is unnecessary when you use a Vista Media Extender or SageHD Media Extender. Why? Because the PC just passes the unprocessed, high-definition video stream from the HDHomerun to the HD extender connected to your TV. The extender has its own CPU and video processor, very similar to what you find in a HD-DVD or Blu-ray player. In fact, some of these extenders use the same Sigma processors found in Blu-ray players.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjpjpjpj View Post

Any idea about my second question, pertaining to using a portable USB hard drive for storage rather than the internal hard drive? Would that cause lag or other problems?

That should be fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjpjpjpj View Post

(3) Can the software for this set-up (SageTV, for example) handle two or more TVs watching different recorded shows (or one live and one recorded) simultaneously, in HD or otherwise?

Yes.
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Old 01-24-2008, 07:02 PM
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The HDHomerun is just a dual-tuner with an ethernet connection. It does not do any processing. It just sends the unprocessed, high-definition video stream to your PC...
...decoding and processing video in the PC is unnecessary when you use a Vista Media Extender or SageHD Media Extender... Because the PC just passes the unprocessed, high-definition video stream from the HDHomerun to the HD extender connected to your TV.

Gotcha. So it's not a big burden on the PC to record it and time-shift it and such because it is unprocessed, and it's the processing (not simply the "mass" of data) that causes the burden on the PC when you want to watch on the PC? Is that right, or am I still off?

Thanks again for taking the time to explain... I have to understand this so that I can explain in layman's terms to my wife why we have to spend this money on these gadgets.
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Old 01-24-2008, 07:26 PM
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Gotcha. So it's not a big burden on the PC to record it and time-shift it and such because it is unprocessed, and it's the processing (not simply the "mass" of data) that causes the burden on the PC when you want to watch on the PC? Is that right, or am I still off?

That's right. It doesn't take much processing power at all to schedule recordings and record.
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:48 AM
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That's right. It doesn't take much processing power at all to schedule recordings and record.

Thanks for all your help, bfdtv. Looks like that old PC collecting dust in the basement is about to become our new DVR.
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Old 09-30-2008, 09:54 PM
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Couple things:

You can set your HDTV to "hibernate" when not recording - that $200\\year in electricity is outrageous!

HD shows do not need to be "decoded." HDTV is broadcast in a digital format- you "stream" it to your computer, it does not have to make the transition from analog to digital the way NTSC signals do!


-Buckfalfa
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Old 10-02-2008, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markmazza View Post

Well here it is 2008 and it's still unlikely you will find a decent HD DVR like the Motorolla DCT3400 to record over the air broadcasts without insanely stupid $1000/year subscriptions to service providers offering 800 channels of mostly useless standard definition programming that most of us don't want.

I'm convinced that industry leaders are controlling the manufacture and distribution of good quality HD DVR's making it impossible for the consumer to purchase a full featured DVR at a reasonable price (Say $500 bucks) that works without subscriptions or cable connections.

Um... You can buy an HD Tivo and a lifetime subscription for about $700. No monthly fee and it will record OTA digital (ATSC) analog (NTSC) and digital cable (QAM) with a cable-card it will record all premium cable channels too.

Watch for sales near the holidays and you can get the package for as little as $500. That's what I paid about a year ago $200 for the Tivo HD and $300 for a lifetime subscription.

I am a computer nut myself but I found that Tivo-HD is by far the most cost effective and hassle free soultion.

A 'phile and his money are soon parted...
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Old 10-02-2008, 07:45 PM
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Um... You can buy an HD Tivo and a lifetime subscription for about $700. No monthly fee and it will record OTA digital (ATSC) analog (NTSC) and digital cable (QAM) with a cable-card it will record all premium cable channels too.

Watch for sales near the holidays and you can get the package for as little as $500. That's what I paid about a year ago $200 for the Tivo HD and $300 for a lifetime subscription.

I am a computer nut myself but I found that Tivo-HD is by far the most cost effective and hassle free soultion.


Please pardon my ignorance, but I am a long time Comcast DVR user and I'm being forcefully sexed in the butt with fees and I'm tired of it.

So in the most basic terms this is what the HD tivo will do (correct me if I'm wrong please cause I have no experience with OTA stuff):

OTA antenna into DVR, DVR through HDMI/component into TV, and it will work just like my current Comcast DVR (on screen display, ease of use, remote control).

Don't think of it as screendoor, it's more like an infinite game of tic tac toe.
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Old 10-02-2008, 10:13 PM
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Please pardon my ignorance, but I am a long time Comcast DVR user and I'm being forcefully sexed in the butt with fees and I'm tired of it.

So in the most basic terms this is what the HD tivo will do (correct me if I'm wrong please cause I have no experience with OTA stuff):

OTA antenna into DVR, DVR through HDMI/component into TV, and it will work just like my current Comcast DVR (on screen display, ease of use, remote control).

Basically yes that's what it will do. Tivo has it's own on screen guide, universal remote, and the Tivo user inerface is said to be far superior to Comcast's DVR.

You might not want to dump cable too quickly. I am on Comcast and my cablecard fee is only $1.50 a month.

A 'phile and his money are soon parted...
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Old 10-02-2008, 11:15 PM
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You might not want to dump cable too quickly. I am on Comcast and my cablecard fee is only $1.50 a month.

How does the card work? You're paying 1.50 on top of what fees?

Don't think of it as screendoor, it's more like an infinite game of tic tac toe.
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Old 10-03-2008, 05:26 AM
 
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Please pardon my ignorance, but I am a long time Comcast DVR user and I'm being forcefully sexed in the butt with fees and I'm tired of it.

Solution: Cancel your Comcast service. That fixes that, and sends a very clear message to Comcast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newsguy View Post

So in the most basic terms this is what the HD tivo will do (correct me if I'm wrong please cause I have no experience with OTA stuff): OTA antenna into DVR, DVR through HDMI/component into TV, and it will work just like my current Comcast DVR (on screen display, ease of use, remote control).

Yup pretty much, but money-wise it isn't a win. I get a special discount on my TiVo S3 subscription (because I have an older unit with lifetime service), and I'm still looking at a three or four year break-even, as compared to the Comcast-provided DVR -- and I lost On Demand going with the TiVo. And three or four years from now, the TiVo S3 / TiVo HD could be practically obsolete.

Don't get me wrong, it was worth the extra money, to me, but it is "extra money".
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Old 10-03-2008, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by newsguy View Post

How does the card work? You're paying 1.50 on top of what fees?

Basically a cable card is what authorizes your Tivo to receive the digital cable services you pay for. It is the size of a PCMCIA card like a laptop uses. The Tivo has two card slots, you use one single stream card for each tuner, or one multistream card for both tuners depending on what your local cable system uses.

One multistrearm card cost $1.50 on top of what ever we are paying for the "Digital Silver" cable TV package (everything but premiums), Comcast HSI, taxes and local franchise fees. I can't give you an exact number right now because I am at work.

Considering I was paying $10 a month extra for an non-DVR HD cable box and locally the Comcast DVR's are $15 a month in a little over two and a half years (only about a year from now) the Tivo and lifetime subscription will have paid for it's self in savings.

I still have a non-HD cablebox (one comes free with service) so I can watch On-Demand just not HD On-demand. Tivo has it's own on demand type service through Amazon Un-Box that downloads right to the Tivo. It takes about 40 minutes for an average movie to download but you can start watching after about ten minutes and it will continue to download.

BTW: Tivo and Comcast are currently working on a device that will plug into the Tivo's USB port. This will allow On-Demand services to work and allow the Tivo to function properly when they deploy switched digital video (SDV).

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Old 10-03-2008, 10:20 AM
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Ok thanks alot for that info. I'm going to call today and look into the card.

Don't think of it as screendoor, it's more like an infinite game of tic tac toe.
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Old 10-03-2008, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by 11001011 View Post

BTW: Tivo and Comcast are currently working on a device that will plug into the Tivo's USB port. This will allow On-Demand services to work and allow the Tivo to function properly when they deploy switched digital video (SDV).

No, unfortunately On-Demand won't work, even after the tuning adapters hit. They *theoretically* could make it work if they wanted to - but they don't. You'll have to wait for the Series 4 (with OCAP/tru2way support) to hit before you'll be able to have both digital cable and On-Demand with a TiVo box (not counting the Comcast TiVo software running on Moto boxes, but that sounds like it's been a disaster to me).
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Old 10-04-2008, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by demonfoo View Post

No, unfortunately On-Demand won't work, even after the tuning adapters hit. They *theoretically* could make it work if they wanted to - but they don't.

Dang you are right, oh well it's not like I miss it anyway.

This certainly does not improve my impression of the cable company, greedy bastards.

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